I am a great admirer of Asian culture. For some reason I have always held an interest in it, and I truly have the utmost respect for it. As such I am also an enormous lover of Asian cinema. And I don’t mean only Martial Arts movies, (which I ofcourse also like), but also art house movies. Last year I saw the incredibly moving Chinese movie Coming Home, a film that told a truly heartbreaking tale, and almost left me in tears at the end. It contained little to no action, but just had some very powerful acting, and was a delight to watch from start to finish. A movie that showed that you don’t always need explosions, gunfights or other things like that, to capture the attention of the audience. However, not every picture can pull off something like that, and unfortunately the Assassin is painful proof of that.
The Assassin takes place in seventh century China. A young girl, only 10 years of age called Nie Yinniang is taken by a nun, who trains her to become a deadly assassin. After disappearing for 13 years, Yinniang returns to her homeland to execute a dangerous mission. She is presented with an incredibly difficult choice: kill the man for which she has soms very deep feelings, or break forever with the ways of the assassins. Whatever choice she eventually will make, both roads lead to heartache….
Having seen the trailer for this movie last year I was expecting a very powerful epic, in the style of movies such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or House of Flying Daggers. This movie however is something completely different. It is slow….so incredibly slow. I don’t mind slow movies at all, but this takes things to a new level. The story is very hard to follow, and there are things happening that just don’t make any sense. Yinniang, for instance is confronted by a mysterious swordswoman in a forest, and after a few blows with their swords and about 10 seconds, both women just walk away. Why ? No explanation whatsoever is given. And the movie is full of things like this.
One thing that does deserve mention is the way the movie is shot. The cinematography is absolutely fantastic, and at times you are wondering if you are looking at something straight out of a dream. The costumes are also spectacular, especially the black outfit of Yinniang. I had been looking forward to this movie ever since I had first seen the trailer. I truly tried to like it and after it ended I found myself wandering what I had missed. The critics were full of praise for this movie, but I have no clue as to why. Yes the movie is beautiful to look at, but that is really all there is to it. I am sad to say this movie has been one of the biggest disappointments of this year. If you have trouble going to sleep, you might find that this movie can help you.
I give the Assassin a 3 out of 10 score.